tv The Situation Room CNN April 1, 2014 2:00pm-3:01pm PDT
is one that works everywhere. >> and it can have a problem as it has happened in the several for this flight. thanks to perry flint for the iata. that's it for "the lead." i'm jim sciutto sitting in for jake tapper. wolf blitzer is in "the situation room." >> jim, thanks very much. the mystery of flight 370. malaysia authorities made very clear they and international investigators now believe the airliners move its deliberate action by someone on the plane. an official transcript is released between the cockpit and ground controllers but just who on board the aircraft was doing the talking? and at air crews are shown what they are up against and commanders for that effort. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." we begin with new information on
the hunt for the missing airliner. here are the latest developments. malaysian authorities release radio communication between the cockpit and air traffic controllers and they stressed the airliner's movement reflect deliberate action by someone on board. malaysia airlines steps up security on all of its aircraft as the disappearance of flight 370 focuses on new attention on the cockpit safety situation. and a top search says the area being scoured is unprecedented and the calculations that pinpointed the search zone amount to a very inexact science. it warrants the hunt for the airliner, quote, could drag on for a long time. our analysts and reporters are standing by here in washington as well as around the world with the kind of special coverage that only cnn can deliver. we begin with our senior international correspondent nic robertson is joining us from kuala lumpur with the latest.
nic? >> wolf, officials have now release the transcript or communications between air traffic controllers and flight mh-370. this loss, this communication lo lasts for about 53 1/2 minutes whoch but who is saying it? that's the very big question. malaysian officials finally released the transcript from inside the cockpit. the government took pains to highlight the international investigations team and malaysia authorities remain of the opinion that up until the point of which it left military primary radar coverage, mh-370's movements were consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane. the transcript confirms that the final words said by either
captain zaharie ahmad shah were, good night malaysian 370. a routine handoff. officials did not say who on the flight deck was talking. a source with intimate knowledge of malaysia airlines operations says that prior to takeoff it is customary for the first officer to handle communications for pushback and taxi. after that, this source says either could handle radio communications. the transcript shows continuing routine pleasant back and forth instructions and acknowledgements. at one point the transcript shows the crew saying good morning malay as the aircraft climbed out. the controller confirmed that the aircraft was canceling s.i.d., standard igari.
among the questions being raised here, why who is talking is being so closely held. since the co-pilot routinely speaks during the pushback and taxi, it should be easy to identify who made the final handoff. whatever happened to flight 370 remains steeped in mystery. a source tells cnn that the real key may be finding out, if possible, what took place in the two minutes or so between the last transmission at 1:19 a.m. and the shutoff of the transponder and another source tells cnn investigators will want to know why in those seconds no radio call was made to vietnamese air traffic control. and until the flight data recorders are recovered, investigators have little chance of figuring that out.
even then, the cockpit voice recorder may reveal no clues because it would have been overrecorded several times before the flight ended. now, one accident investigator said that he would want to take a plane to the same altitude, 35,000 feet to then take it to the same location which should be known within approximately two miles of that last communication and try to make radio contact with ho chi minh which would have been expected to determine if there was a radio black hole there. he doesn't think there should be but it should be very important to rule out at this stage, wolf. >> that's a good idea, nic. here's a question. why don't they release the actual audiotape of that 51 minutes of conversation? >> reporter: that's not clear.
perhaps it will lead to clues or further speculation about who was in control of the aircraft at that last handoff. certainly by saying that they are not aware right now surprises former investigators. they say it will be normal at this stage for people who knew both the pilot and the first officer to have been brought in to listen to the tapes. these tapes are held for six months. so they are clearly available. the transcripts have been made. the information is available. indeed, according to one person familiar with the operations at the airline, he said that within 16 hours they should know precisely who made that final handoff. so again, this gives an indication that perhaps this information is too sensitive to share at this time. it would show who was in control in those final minutes and presumably who made the turn that we are being told by sources here it is essentially a criminal act, wolf. >> that's what sources are suggesting indeed. all right. nic robertson in kuala lumpur,
good reporting. thank you. let's bring in our senior aviation analyst, miles o'brien, former ntsb managing director, peter goelz and tom few weuente. miles, anything stand out to you? >> it's the response four, maybe five times. what happened in that case? initially i thought maybe they were politely trying to ask for a different altitude. they were at the altitude that they filed for. here's the thing. the recording is done on the ground, obviously. so air traffic control might very well have been responding and the crew is not hearing it at all. so was there a radio problem? a communication problem? or something even worse that was brewing at that time? it's possible.
>> peter? >> i really didn't see anything. i thought it looked pretty normal. >> and you agree? >> yes. >> totally normal. all right. it took three weeks for the malaysians -- i'll ask you this, tom. you've worked with the malaysians. why did it take three weeks? it should have been released immediately. >> it should have been. i've worked with the police but this part of the investigation is really the aviation side of it. the defense ministry, the radars, satellite information is being released. so on the criminal side practically nothing is going to be released other than continued findings that nothing negative has come up on either pilot. >> the aud criotape is nothing e than confirmation.
they should have done it weeks ago. >> there could be clues that you don't see in a transcript. >> the microphone clicks, stress in their voice, and another point, wolf, we have not heard a peep. we have not seen a transcript from the ho chi minh city. we have persistent reports that there was an aircraft asked to relay to that flight 370 crew and they supposedly heard mumbles or something. this report has not been confirmed. it would be nice to see that transcript and hear those recordings. >> why don't the vietnamese release them? >> there might be international challenges between the two countries but miles is right. that report of a call to a malaysian airlines plane perhaps half hour in front, critical that we find out whether that took place. >> here's the statement that the malaysian government put out today, tom. i'll put it up on the screen. the international investigations team and authorities remain of the opinion that up until the
point at which it left military primary radar coverage, mh-370's movements were consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane. so that suggests criminal activity, not mechanical failure. >> well, not necessarily. i mean, you could still have that they had a mechanical and that's why they were deliberately flying the way that they did. it doesn't rule that out. the criminal investigation has been ongoing from day one just in case it is a criminal matter. but we don't know what caused the term or what caused the pilots to do what they were doing. and if there was some problem on that plane and it disabled their communication capability and they were trying to turn around and, you know, it still does not say for sure that they committed suicide or that it was terrorism or hijacking. it just said the plane was being flown in that direction. >> consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane. i know that there's this loophole. tom is right. it sounds to me that the average
use of those words, someone deliberately a couple minutes after they said good night from the cockpit to ground control in kuala lumpur, someone two minutes or three minutes later made that sharp turn and deviated from the flight path towards beijing. it sounds like when they say consistent with deliberate action, it sounds criminal to me, at least that's the way i interpret it. >> and that's the way i read it. from the beginning, once we established that these were deliberate acts of turning off the transponder, turning off acars and a deliberate turn, the odds favored some criminal -- >> it depends on what the flight path looks like. we saw reports and this came from chinese families, a 270-degree turn. we have no way of verifying that. that's a deliberate and criminal act. you could make that conclusion. but if you saw something that was a steep, 90-degree turn and a drop to 10,000 feet in altitude, that could be a
deliberate response to an emergency situation. so there's a semantic discussion here, i think. >> i know that they always have to deal with the emergency first but they would alert someone that they've got a real problem. >> yeah. this is the hardest thing to get around. you aviate, navigate, and communicate. that's the rule. why couldn't they get a mayday call out? >> it's still inexplicable. guys, don't go too far away. malaysia airlines boosts security on its entire fleet as authorities suspect the disappearance of flight 370 was a deliberate action. and we'll take you inside the search. i'll talk with a key military commander.
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a nuclear submarine is joining a search. kyung lah is joining us from the staging area in perth, australia, with more of what is going on. what is the latest, kyung? >> reporter: well, in just about the next hour, the air search is about to resume. they are basically combing the area back and forth and we are getting that late word that a uk british nuclear sub is joining the severaarch area. it's going to lend some extra
hands to the search, at least putting eyeballs under the sea hoping to find the wreckage as quickly as possible. wolf? >> kyung, there were sobering words coming from officials today. share some of them with us. >> reporter: sobering and quite blunt. basically, the men leading the operation saying, look, we are not going to find this very quickly. he is saying this is based on inexact science off of those blurry satellite images that we've been showing. he says, we need to look at this as a long game. here's what he said. >> we need to pursue the search and continue to do that for some time to come. but inevitably if we don't find wreckage on the surface, we are eventually going to have to probably in consultation that
has a stake in this review what we do next. >> reporter: he's saying this is not going to take two weeks. this could potentially take longer. the local paper here, wolf, did say that perth should expect to be the command post for years. wolf? >> that's sobering, indeed. kyung lah, thank you. one of the key operations figures behind the search, wind commander out of the royal new zealand air force. thank you for joining us. i know that the search operations about to resume with daylight over the indian ocean do you have any new fresh, credible leads that you are working on. they went back and further investigation and both of those objects were photographed and passed back and since then they've been recovered by
chinese vessel that was in the area and, unfortunately, haven't given any new credible leads for that particular area. >> so you're just going to fly over this vast area and look and look and look? is that basically the bottom line? >> one of the things that we're starting to look at now is what we've had in that area. any future discussions in the area that will act in kuala lumpur and looking at expert data in drift currents. and now that we have the confidence that we have covered this area and haven't found it, it's likely to shift to the north and northeast. >> what do you make, commander, of the british announcement that one of the their nuclear
submarines, the "hh tireless" will be dispatched to look for the black boxes. that's a significant development, isn't it? >> so that was actually the first -- at the end of the day, another search area which is of course a very complex search operation and that's now -- there are nine search vessels in the area. that will bring it up to ten for the vessels and half a dozen helicopters in addition to the large fixed aircraft that are participating from perth. so, again, another set of eyes out there, another set of senses, so to speak, after the water is also going to be very useful to the search. >> your surveillance planes flying over, what are their capabilities of detecting any material underwater as opposed to just stuff that is floating? >> so primarily searches that we're engaged in at the moment
are based on stuff on the surface. it's still a visual search pattern that we're doing primarily also supplemented by radar searching. so they are start of the art as far as the equipment on board and they are ideally suited for this type of search. it's limited and are they giving you expect to be involved in the search for how much longer. have they given you any time frame at all in the pingers from the so-called black boxes and within a matter of days the batteries will dry up. >> that's right. we've had those reports as well and fundamentally that's not changing what we're looking for. obviously on the surface we're looking for any signs of debris that can help narrow down the search area. and at this stage, the new
zealand government is committing a military search and we haven't gotten any indication of whether that is going to change. >> it's evidence that it's the right place to look. now, of course, the more searching that we do in the area, the more we can discount. at this stage it's the best leads that we have, that leads us to this particular area and once we've gone and searched it thoroughly, that's likely to lead on to the next area. >> as you know, this is a multinational effort. commander, how good is the cooperation among the various countries involved? >> the cooperation has been outstanding. so obviously we have traditional and nontraditional partner nations that are involved and it really has been truly excellent.
at the moment, as i said, from the aircraft point of view, there is nonmilitary aircraft and noncivilian aircraft there at the moment and in addition of the witchtail aircraft, on behalf of australia, it's helping with that coordination and it's a very complex space with a lot of aircraft helicopter surface assets all trying to negotiate a similar area during those daylight hours where they have the best effect. >> the wing commander for the new zealand air force, we'll check back with you. thanks for joining us. good luck to you and all of the men and women involved in this very important search. coming up, malaysia airlines steps up security on all of its aircraft as the disappearance of flight 370 focuses new attention on cockpit safety. and did investigators waste precious days in the search by failing to fail what they were learning? we're taking a closer look. stay with us. we're in "the situation room." we asked people a question,
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inside the planes cockpit, all airliners, pamela brown is looking at this part of the story. what are you finding out? >> wolf, cnn is learning that malaysian airlines has stepped up security following flight 370's disappearance. the airline will not tell us what that means. malaysian officials believe the disappearance of the flight was a criminal act by one of the pilots with someone else. this shows flight 370 pilot zaharie shah with a woman and he invited her and a friend inside. the airline was shocked by the photo but now what sources are saying to investigators is flight 370 turns off course as a criminal act, industry experts are asking if cockpits are really secure.
>> this should be for every single airline around the world, this should be the wake-up call that says, let's review our procedures. >> reporter: after hijackers breached security on four planes on 9/11, cockpit doors were reinforced but even in a post 9/11 world, current regulations are not always strictly followed by every airline in every country. >> human nature seems to take over. there's some type of a degradation of procedures, whether pilots are giving briefings to their crews or whether the doors stay open longer than necessary. >> reporter: the tsa requires all airlines entering or leaving the u.s. to keep cockpit doors okayed. if a pilot has to leave, a crew member must replace him or her and the door is blocked during the switch. no one could reenter without someone inside confirming his or her identity.
still, experts say there are inevitable vulnerabilities, such as the bathroom being outside the cockpit. >> the cockpit door is very much like a moat that is used to protect the castle but if the moat it done, what good is it? >> there are minimum safety standards in the u.s., such as putting up a secondary barrier before the cockpit but that costs a lot of money that many airlines are not willing to fork over. >> there are lessons potentially down the road to be learned. hang on. i want to bring in miles o'brien and richard quest. miles, what do you make of trying to beef up security in the cockpit in it seems like after 9/11 we should have been doing that for a long time. >> well, you would think t hardened door and having a person come in to replace an absent crew member has when the crew that needs to use the facilities, a second door is
shut and they are medically sealed that way. maybe that's something an airline should look at. anybody who has been in a plane remembers when the flight crew puts the drink cart out in front and they stand there. there is something that is a deterrent, it's got wheels and shouldn't be very difficult. >> no, but it's, i suppose the best one can say is a delay rather than completely prevent so the door can be shut and deadlocked. other airlines have a metal grill that they pull across on some of the 757s. it's all designed to sort of prevent rather than obstruct -- or obstruct rather than prevent. fundamentally, though, if you're talking about the cockpit and in
this case, since the allegation is out there that the pilot might have been involved, you do suffer from one really deep unattract tif problem and that is that someone has to fly the plane. and if one of them is involved you've got a very serious problem indeed. >> richard, a week before this incident, you were in the malaysia airlines 777. you were in the cockpit. you sat there and were invited in with your crew. you filmed it at the time. we're showing our viewers some pictures. describe what it was like. how secure is that area? >> well, it's as secure as those involved wish to make it. so it has exactly the same level of security that one would expect on any other airline in terms of physical hardware. yes, there was the hardened door, there was the door release
button with a little flip on it so you couldn't do it by accident. you had to make a conscious effort to lift it up and push the button to really -- there was the camera outside the cockpit so you could see who was trying to get into the cockpit from outside. so this is not a question of physical plant. it's a question of how you implement it. and we were, of courts, it's not like you said we're here to film. everybody was well aware. so they were arguably -- the door was slightly more relaxed in the environment because we had to bring equipment in and out and that sort of thing and there was a lot more of us around the door. it would have been quite challenging if someone had wanted to do something while we were there. >> pamela, this stepped up security in the cockpit. the new steps that they are taking right now, i assume it's related to the fear, the suspicion that the pilot or co-pilot or someone got into that cockpit and deliberately turned that plane into a
different direction? >> malaysia airlines released a statement that it is stepping up security and sort of reiterating to employees to rigorously follow the steps that are already in place, wolf, but they are not going into specifics obviously for security reasons. >> what do you make of all of this? >> you could come up with a scenario where you have an 18,000 or 30-year veteran, this is the guy who the young first officer would hold in great esteem and would want to impress in any way he could. you can imagine a scenario where that captain, given the apparent laxity could have sent him out, shut the door and isolated himself. that's a scenario that could happen. >> after one of them may have said good night and signed off, we're going into vietnamese air space, potentially we don't know if that happened. i'm sure they are looking at that. guys, thanks very much. we'll have all of you back later
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>> malaysian officials have been under fire for their handling of the investigation and now they are being called out for not coordinating two teams of investigators who were looking at the flight's path. that wasted valuable time in the search for the indian ocean. for ten days, several ships and aircraft combed an area in the indian ocean the size of mexico. then, abruptly, last friday, the search area was moved. >> the search area was moved 1,100 kilometers to the northeast. >> reporter: now "the wall street journal" reports it was a lack of coordination between investigative teams which led to that initial search presumably in the wrong area. "the journal" citing people familiar with the matter to determine the path one team was calculating the fuel and consumption rate and says another team worked separately using satellite data. it was only after information from both teams was merged that
"the journal" reports that the search was shifted 700 miles the other way. >> in this case we had separate investigations of separate pieces of this that unfortunately may have cost us critical time in searching in perhaps the wrong area for the aircraft. >> reporter: former faa official points out u.s. investigations have also in the past been hampered by internal problems. after the 1996 twa flight 800 crashed, the ntsb was widely reported to not be cooperating well. >> that was an example that really changed the way the resources were coordinated. >> reporter: now he says in the u.s. different teams looking at mechanics, wetter thather and satellites communicate with each other. the malaysians simply weren't equipped that way. >> they haven't had to organize themselves on how to do this on a regular basis in the past and therefore do they not only have the experts but the organization
in the government. >> reporter: there's been nothing like it ever seen before but as for those first days of intensive searching in the indian ocean -- >> we wasted valuable time, precious resources and now we're in the fourth quarter down by fourth touchdowns. >> the malaysians have defended their conduct saying that the search has to be done based on the best information at the time. the ntsb, which has a team helping in this investigation, pushes back hard on "the wall street journal" report. an agency spokesperson telling me that all of the teams have been working well, sharing information, and coordinating with each other from the beginning. wolf? >> there also, though, could be a problem in the sharing of the satellite pictures. >> that's right. michael says the politics of sharing satellite information is very sensitive among the countries. there's a disincentive to share what they can do using satellite data. the u.s. and china, two countries taking part in this
search may be a little reluctant to share that information. that could be hindering things right now. >> thanks very much, brian, for that. one of the co-authors of "the wall street journal" report will join us live in "the situation room" during our next hour. joining us now from new york, colleen keller, a senior analyst at metron, inc. a defense contractor. how much time do you think was wasted in this search? >> i hate to call it wasted. i mean, it is possible that we were in the wrong area and it's really not fair to just come down on the malaysians. i mean, searches like this under high visibility often have problems like this. it was my understanding that the inmarsat analysis was done on the initiative of the analyst. they came forward and said, hey, we can do this extra stuff. so, you know, they might have been doing that in parallel
while the other analysis was going on and just brought this to the malaysians' attention. this kind of information sharing or lack thereof is very typical of a big search under high scrutiny. i can name an example of many. >> the australian air chief was talking about some of the challenges. listen to this. >> we are working from a very uncertain starting point and i just wanted to reinforce that because it will take time. it's not something that's necessarily going to be resolved in the next two weeks, for example. >> might not be resolved longer than that. look, in the air france 447 search and you were directly involved back in 2009, within five days off the coast of brazil in the atlantic, you did find some debris but it then took, what, another two years to
recover the so-called black boxes? is that right? >> that's correct. the debris -- we were in the right place. and so the debris was basically there to be found and it took five days, which is kind of surprising, but we did stumble across it and picked up many, many pieces that we used in the analysis. the reason why the search took so long is that they did an underwater beacon search for the beacons on the black boxes in the first 30 days after the wreck and they didn't hear anything. so they assumed they were looking in the wrong place. that started a long protracted search in other areas, you know, using unmanned underwater vehicles with cameras and sonar and it was only after a year and a half that we went back and reconsidered the original search area where the beacons were supposedly not found and we looked there with the cameras and that's when we actually found the wreckage there. >> so how far was the black box between the actual initial wreckage that you discovered after five days? >> the debris field was
literally like five to eight miles off of the last known point and basically in the direction of flight. >> if they were looking in the right area, given the resources that they have, colleen, right now, the fact that they've come up so far with nothing, not even a small piece of that plane, do you think they are looking at the right area or potentially is this another false lead? >> well, it's really tempting, wolf, to say that they are looking in the wrong area but search is imprecise and just because you've flown over an area once doesn't mean you've seen everything down there and we've seen this so many times where people think that they have, quote, covered an area and they really just have missed what is important. think about how many times you've looked multiple times for your car keys and then you find them where you already looked. we may have to put more effort into this box. >> colleen keller, thank you and we'll check back with you
tomorrow. >> thank you. >> in our next hour, an exclusive look at the iranians who boarded flight 370 using those stolen passports. we've gotten in touch with a friend who said good-bye to one of them at the airport. co: i've always found you don't know you need a hotel room until you're sure you do. bartender: thanks, captain obvious. co: which is what makes using the hotels.com mobile app so useful. i can book a nearby hotel room from wherever i am.
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ex exasperated. jim, they seem to be celebrating now that they've gone over their golf 1 million. >> reporter: white officials say this was not a victory lap but as the president touted the new enrollment numbers. the 7 million is based on the latest enrollment data. you saw the president stand in front of some very embattled administration officials defending this law. he nearly pulled the plug on healthercare.gov after so many problems with the website. he was setting the stage for mid-term elections throwing down the gauntlet for the republicans saying bring it on. >> why are folks working so hard for people not to have health insurance? why are they so mad about the idea of folks having health insurance? many of the tall tales that have
been told about this law have been debunked. there are still to death panels. armageddon has not arrived. instead this law is helping millions of americans and in coming years it will help millions more. i've said before, i will always work with anyone who is willing to make this law even better. but the debate over repealing this law is over. the affordable care act is here to stay. >> reporter: now what made a difference that last minute rush of consumers on to healthercare.gov helped a lot including all those people who called into the call centers, wolf. keep in mind white house officials are saying those viral videos like the ones starring the celebrity endorsement, that drove people to healthercare.gov and one other thing to keep in
mind the white house is not releasing key data points. those people who have not paid for their enrollment that could suppress the numbers. keep in mind the young adults who have signed up we don't have the enrollment data on that. that's very critical to the overall performance of the affordable care act. what a difference a working website makes. >> six months later. no doubt people who tried to get on couldn't get on. they still have a couple of weeks if they still want to get on and in some states where they have their own computer programs they have at least a month to still become eligible. >> reporter: that's right. the white house says and you heard the president say if people were in line at the stroke of midnight last night they will have some more time to sign up and the other thing to watch is what happens with premiums, the people that signed up for obamacare, what happens to their premium, the amount of money they pay for their health insurance. does that skyrocket. is there sticker shock?
>> we'll have more on this story in our next hour as well. jim acosta, thank you. coming up our situation room special report, we look at the iranians who boarded the airliner, malaysian flight 370 using stolen passports. for you have entered the promised land of accomodation. ♪ booking.com booking.yeah!
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to make our world a little less imperfect. call... and ask about all the ways you could save. liberty mutual insurance -- responsibility. what's your policy? happening now, situation room special report the mystery of flight 370. search set backs. we're getting new information about the sea and air operation and why so many things have gone wrong. deliberate action. malaysian authorities say more about the possibility of foul play as they release full details about communications from the cockpit. and a cnn exclusive, we'll hear from a friend of one of the iranians who boarded the plane with a stolen passport raising suspicion when the jet first vanished. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer and you're in